previous next
[94] Pawnee was the largest vessel in the river, and she was only of about thirteen hundred tons and carried a battery of fifteen guns. The commander of this vessel, Stephen C. Rowan, cooperating with the ill-fated Colonel Ellsworth and his regiment of Zouaves, took possession of the town of Alexandria. Virginia, May 24, 1851, and it was the navy that hoisted the Stars and Stripes once more over the custom-house.

There was an apparent fruitlessness in a naval force continually contending with shore batteries. If one was silenced and its gunners driven off, the odds were that it would be reerected the next night, and the work would have to be done all over again. Constantly did the Navy department request from the Secretary of War that a land force should act with it in the destruction of the Potomac batteries. But General McClellan declared that he could not spare the troops. As a naval writer of that day has pictured the situation, it can be well understood:

Under such circumstances, the service of the Potomac flotilla was probably among the most fatiguing and discouraging of the war. The crews of the vessels spent a great portion of their nights in rowing up and down the river on picket duty, watching for mail-carriers, smugglers, and spies of all kinds; and in the daytime the ships were often aground on the bars and shoals, in spite of all precaution. They were in hourly danger of being opened upon by masked batteries, which could be constructed unseen in the thick undergrowth of the shores; their quarters in the little steamers were exceedingly uncomfortable; their prizes were rowboats, and small, worthless river craft. . . . For their reward, these hard-working, much-enduring men received too often only the complaints of the country that nothing was done, and sneers at the inefficiency of the Navy department, and especially of the Potomac flotilla.

As we look back upon these times, when North and South were on tiptoe with excitement, it was remarkable that the Government had not made, before the end of May, any really

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Pawnee City (Nebraska, United States) (1)
Cornfield Point (Maryland, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
McClellan (1)
Ellsworth (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
May 24th, 1851 AD (1)
May (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: